Moment by Moment

There is a glory in putting one foot in front of the other; if one does so with eyes and heart fixed upon God.

Below excerpted from Zack Eswine’s ‘Recovering Eden: The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes’:

The problem isn’t that we don’t talk about living moment by moment. Many people do.

The nihilist seeks to live moment by moment in order to rehearse the emptiness of it all. The cynic seeks to live moment by moment in order to mock the pretenses we chase. The hedonist seeks to live moment by moment in order to limit pain and to secure good sensations. The Christian escapist seeks to live moment by moment in order to secure removal from the physical and the ugly.

The problem then is the kind of moment-by-moment awareness that we need the grace to cultivate. The Preacher invites us to see each moment as the means by which God pursues us among the pots and pans and marriage kisses of our lot. Each minute contains a sanctuary for worship; each hour offers a kitchen table for conversation with Him; each day is a wood path for walking with Him; each moment, no matter how wonderfully ordinary or flea-infested, offers enough for intimacy with Him.

Jesus sought the Father in His boyhood days (Lk 2:49). When Jesus broke bread for a meal (Lk 4:30) or when He had nothing to eat (Jn 4:31-33), He saw either circumstance in relation to the presence of the Father. Whether Jesus was alone (Lk 5:16) or joyful with His friends (Lk 10:21) or abandoned by them (Lk 22:39-46) or when enemies mistreated Him (Jn 18:33-36), Jesus discerned the presence of the Father in those moments. Even on the cross, with the violence from under the sun heaping upon Him, Jesus sought the communion of the Father (Lk 23:34, 46). Jesus lives what the Preacher in Ecclesiastes preaches.

The Preacher has been walking us through the dark creepy basement of the fallen world with his flashlight. It would seem that if anybody could come to the conclusion that the sky is falling, it would be the Preacher. But the Preacher doesn’t panic. He hates it. He grieves it. He declares it ruthless and ugly and empty. But he refuses to run toward the welcoming arms of the nihilist, the cynic, the hedonist, or the religious escapist. That kind of help doesn’t.

Instead, the Preacher believes that God has not left the mess but remains here in it and with us. In that light, we start with what we have and we do this little bit each day with God. But how?

“But we are all going to die!” We counter. “I know, make a sandwich, cook a fish,” the Preacher responds. “But the sky is falling!” we shout. “I know, have some tea, enjoy this wine with me,” he says, “God is here.”

“But everything is meaningless!” I know, go ahead and wash your clothes. “But injustice racks the broken world!” I know, go ahead and take a bath or clean your face when you can. “Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head” (Eccl 9:8). “God hasn’t quit.”

“But what do you mean? Nothing satisfies us! It’s all vanity!” I know, listen to your wife’s voice, hold her hand, wash the dishes together, plan your life, learn to make wondrous love, work redemptively through your pains together, help the kids, do not deny how much you love her, embrace this. “But death is coming!” I know; “enjoy life with the wife whom you love” (Eccl 9:9). “God is here.”

“But wisdom gets us no favours here!” Yes, so go ahead and start your day. “But life isn’t fair!” I know. The grief is terrible. But try to do what you love as you are able. Do it passionately with all of your heart even if you are stuck doing some work that is beneath your dreams. Still, God can meet you there. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl 9:10).

Adam and Eve had nothing more than this. Their lot was God’s gift. They had each other, the place, a bit of work, and food, and they had God. Death came. But this original provision for which the human heart was made, remains.

Eden was our purpose. Trying to bust out of it remains our constant downfall. God and His joys are found here within our lot and not somewhere else. After all, once we get somewhere else, we will have to face the same questions once gainless boredom or restless discontent takes hold of us there too. Sooner or later, whether due to age, sickness or circumstance, there will be no other place to go, no other work to try, no other wife to leave, and no other menu from which we can order. At some point, we all have to come to terms with the spiritual truth that true joy is found in God and God is found right where His gifts are. God’s gifts are our lot. This means that right here where we are is where God will be found no matter what ruckus death makes.

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